Ironsi's widow Slams Danjuma
VULTURE WILL EAT YOUR CORPSE!
For calling my husband who you killed "useless"
By SHOLA OSHUNKEYE
Former Defence Minister, Lt. Gen. Theophilus Danjuma may have inadvertently heaped a coal of fire on his
aging head with a recent interview he granted The Guardian On Sunday where he described the assassinated Head of State, Major-General G.T.U Ironsi, as a "useless", "desk-clerk" Head of State.
Ironsi, Head of State and Supreme Commander of the Nigerian Armed Forces, between January and July 1966, was assassinated with Colonel Adekunle Fajuyi, the military governor of the then Western Region, at Ibadan, in a counter-coup that watered the ground for the 30-month civil war that engulfed Nigeria between 1967 and 1970.
The Head of State, famous for his crocodile swagger, was reportedly murdered by General Danjuma and fellow coupists. Danjuma was on the Head of State's entourage, and was actually reported to be with him till late in the night of the coup, before turning his gun at his boss at dawn.
However, in what has turned out to be a haphazard attempt to wash his hands off Ironsi's blood, Danjuma denied pulling the trigger in the Guardian interview, reasonably distancing himself from the gory details of disclosing that he had to "hitch a ride to the barracks (from Government house, Agodi, Ibadan) after the ring leaders had taken Ironsi and Fajuyi away.
He, however, put the lie to his half-baked story when he employed some caustic words to justify the coup, describing Ironsi as a "useless" and desk-clerk" Head of State, 40 solid years after the assassination, and long after key witnesses to the unfortunate event had bitten the dust.
But Mrs. Victoria Aguiyi-Ironsi, former First Lady, widow of the murdered Head of State, now Commissioner I in Local Government Service Commission in Abia State, would not allow the unwarranted assault on her dead husband go unreplied. And reply she did in a most vitriolic manner when she spoke exclusively to Saturday Sun in Umuahia, the state capital on Wednesday.
"He is a useless man," Chief Mrs. Victoria Aguiyi-Ironsi declared. "He is a mad man…. That (Danjuma's vituperation) shows how hopeless and wicked he is. After killing a man the way he did, and 40 years later, he will still not allow my husband to rest in his grave. He is using such a wicked and senseless language on my late husband. That means he (Danjuma) is a hopeless man. He is a shameless coward. Danjuma has got no virtue in him other than that wickedness. That is why he can describe Johnny like that even 40 years after he had killed him in such a brutal manner. But as long as there is God in heaven, and I know there is God in heaven, that is how vulture will describe him too."
I don't know whether you read the interview General Danjuma granted The Guardian last Sunday?
My attention was drawn to it.
He said the first military coup of January15, 1966, was an Igbo coup, a coup staged by Igbo officers to eliminate all northern officers and political leaders at the time.
Don't mind that man. He is a useless man. He is a mad man. How can I continue joining issue with a man like that? He is a stupid man. He is just blabbing. He doesn't know what he is doing. He is knows very well that he is just talking about what he does not know, what he is ignorant of. He didn't know Johnny (Gen. G.T.U.Aguiyi-Ironsi, her late husband). He never came near us enough to know my family, to know the manner of man my late husband was. No, he never did. All the officers at the time were Johnny's children. They related to him like his children. They ate together on the same table, played together, shared things together. It was like a big family, except for cowards and irritants like Danjuma.
Danjuma, at the time was an officer too.
I never knew him as an officer. I knew him as Danjuma. While it lasted, there was no officer I didn't know or that I cannot vouch for, except this Danjuma of a man.
Are you saying Danjuma was so inconsequential, you didn't or couldn't recognize him?
I don't mean knowing him in the manner you are portraying, I mean knowing him in the sense of understanding him. Knowing somebody peripherally is quite different from understanding him.
So, what didn't your understand about Danjuma?
He has been a very sly and cantankerous man all his life. He is a loner. He doesn't move with people. He is a dangerous man. We had always suspected him to be a dangerous human being, going by his strange behaviour and the way he kept to himself most of the time.
What were the things he did or did not do as to warrant your describing him as a dangerous man?
For instance, we maintained an open house at the State House. Officers came in and went out the way they liked. They ate on the same table with Johnny. Their ranks didn't matter. It didn't matter where they came from. Every officer would come, Danjuma would not. Even whenever he went to the mess, he only went to the people he can control, people he can use and these were people from his own side of the country. He had serious hatred for the Igbos. He never mixed with Igbo officers. He is a manipulator. He is a terrible Igbo hater.
But why would he hate the Igbos?
I don't know but I was somewhat in the Army and I know when all of them joined the Army. I was in the Army for 20 years before they killed Johnny. So, I knew all of them very well. But Danjuma, I did not because he was never friendly. He is never a friendly person. You can imagine, I will cook and cook in the house for the whole officers who, out of their love for Johnny, frequently visited the house. I will cook and cook. Sometimes, I would go to bed without food because I had given my portion to a guest. But Danjuma never came round. I never saw him in my house for one day. His hatred for us was that much. Now, he is talking rubbish about Johnny.
Ma, I don't mean to hurt you with what I'm about asking you. But while still commenting on the January 15, 1966 coup, he accused the Igbo officers involved in the coup of deliberately eliminating the cream of the Army, comprising mainly of northern officers, and to use his words, leaving "us with useless officers like Ironsi who was a desk-clerk Head of State". How do you react to this?
That shows how hopeless and wicked he is. After killing a man the way he did, and 40 years later, he will still not allow my husband to rest in his grave. He is using such a wicked and senseless language on my late husband. That means he (Danjuma) is a hopeless man. He is a shameless coward. Danjuma has got no virtue in him other than that wickedness. That is why he can describe Johnny like that even 40 years after he had killed him in such a brutal manner. But as long as there is God in heaven, and I know there is God in heaven that is how vulture will describe him too.
Yes, vulture! (Banging the table…) For making such a wicked statement against my husband in the paper, that is how vulture will describe him. For a man to make that kind of statement like the kind he made in that paper, it's vulture that will describe him. Vulture will eat his corpse.
You are cursing him ma?
Yes, I have to curse him. He deserves to be cursed because I am very, very bitter. Johnny has lived all over the world with people and I have never seen anyone make reference to him that way. Vulture will answer him, not me. He will go before his God and answer for this iniquity. Vengeance is for the Lord.
What do you make of this? He was in your husband's entourage to Ibadan that fateful day to protect him and… (Cuts in…) He didn't go to protect him. He went like a viper to murder him.
That same night, he said that the adjutant came to bang his door at about 1.a.m saying there was problem in Abeokuta, that the duty officer in Abeokuta saw the Commanding Officer holding meeting with Igbo Officers, excluding non-Igbo Officers, that the duty officer called two soldiers, who cocked their guns and rounded up everybody. That that was the beginning of trouble that fateful July morning (the morning of the second coup). He in fact said he was a stranger in the coup that killed your husband.
Lie! Lie!! Lie!!! Oh, why is this Danjuma such a terrible liar? He is the planner. He is a terrible Igbo hater. He hated Igbos with a passion. He said it in the interview that the Northern officers were just waiting for the right time to avenge the first coup on the Igbos. They planned everything. What is he talking about?
He even said the ADC to your husband lied. That everybody knew that he (Danjuma) didn't do the kind of thing that he said he did, after shooting your husband, tying the body to a Landrover and dragging the body all over the place… He said he never did any of those things.
He is saying this now because he knows that Nwankwo (the ADC) is dead now. Why is he just saying all these things now? Why does he have to wait till the people who knew what happened that morning in Ibadan have died before saying all this? Why couldn't he say all this while they were alive to puncture his lies? The ADC had been alive all these years, why didn't he come out to say all this? Why wait till he is dead? What I'm saying is that mouth he used to desecrate Johnny's name 40 years after he murdered him, it's only vulture that will ask him. He is saying all this rubbish, because he knows that the man who knew the correct history and who would have punctured his lies and told the world exactly what happened is dead. He is talking garbage because Nwankwo is dead. Danjuma is a coward, coward of the highest order. He is not an officer and gentleman that all soldiers should be.
How many years now did they kill my husband, leaving me a widow at a very young age and my children fatherless at a very tender age? But has any of us gone to him to beg for food even as they did not pay him what is due to him? They did not build a house for me. Nobody bothered to care if my children and I were living on the street or in market shed.
For 40 years, she bore the brutal assassination of her husband and late Head of State, General G.T.U. Aguiyi-Ironsi, with stoic silence. Despite varying, sometimes provocative accounts of the July 29, 1966 coup, by witnesses to the tragedy, she kept silent but held firmly to her unshakable faith in the power of the Almighty to help her ride the storms and conquer the vicissitudes that usually attend the demise of a family's breadwinner. And as Chief Mrs. Victoria Aguiyi-Ironsi, widow of the assassinated Head of State, told SUNDAY SUN, in Umuahia, the Abia State capital, last Wednesday, "God has been faithful."
"God has really shamed all the enemies of Johnny, (her late husband)," Mrs. Aguiyi-Ironsi, who is Commissioner 1 in the Abia State Local Government Service Commission, said in the exclusive interview. "I was very young when they took him away from me. But with God on my side, and with practically no assistance from anybody, especially the federal government of Nigeria, I was able to train all our eight children (six girls, two boys) to an enviable standard in life."
Although she said the struggle was hellish, she took everything in her stride, resolutely determined to give her children the best she could afford. And the fact that all the children turned out well has dug a bottomless spring of joy in her heart, so much so that she almost completely forgot the pains induced by the gruesome assassination of her husband in Ibadan, capital of the old Western Region on July 29, 1966.
That was until last Sunday, when The Guardian published an exclusive interview with former Defence Minister, General Theophilus Danjuma, who defied the age-long African tradition of showing utmost respect for the dead, by abusing the late Head of State in a most vitriolic manner, describing him as "useless" and a "desk-clerk" Head of State.
Apart from desecreating the memory of her late husband, dishing out what she called "absolute lies", Mrs. Aguiyi-Ironsi was miffed by the fact that an officer far junior to her late husband could have the temerity to lambast the dead Head of State the way he did.
In this concluding part of the interview, the woman said only cowards could speak ill of the dead the way General Danjuma did of her husband. Not only that, she also described the former Defence Minister as a terrible "Igbo Hater".
In the Guardian interview, Danjuma also said something like they, northern officers, had to wait for the right time to strike back, perhaps at the Igbo officers, after the coup of January 15, 1966. He even used the word "draw" as to even scores in a football match. How do you see this?
It only buttresses my earlier point that he is a terrible Igbo hater. He is a man who loves killing. He loves blood, and once it goes to his head, he starts planning.
He also said the reason he hated your husband so much was that after the masterminds of the January 1966 coup had been arrested, that your husband never did anything. That he just kept them there, no trial, nothing; that maybe he was just waiting to free them. Danjuma was even angry that some journalists were already writing and describing them as heroes.
You see, he is a foolish man. What he didn't know is that Johnny was not a dictator. He never took any decision single-handedly. What he did or did not do was collective decision. He never single-handedly took any decision. He believed two heads are better than one. Even when they did Decree 34, was it not a collective decision? When that one was not good, they said it was only Aguiyi-Ironsi who gave Decree 34. How can that be possible? When you hate somebody, there is nothing that person can do that would do be good in your sight.
Do you really believe he pulled the trigger that killed your husband?
I am not interested in the garbage he is saying now. It is 40 years now that they murdered my Johnny and Danjuma's name has been repeatedly mentioned as the person who killed my husband in a most brutal, most wicked manner. He killed Johnny.
In trying to extricate himself from General Ironsi's assassination, Danjuma said he lost control when an officer came up and said soldiers should first of all seize his crocodile swagger, or else your husband will disappear. That he disagreed with the officer, and that was the point he lost control and the boys took over.
At least you can see from this disjointed statement the face of a pathetic liar. Why can't this coward own up to his evil deed or shut his mouth forever? How can a mere disagreement over a mere swagger make him lose control, when he was already in military fatigue, which he said he borrowed for the operation, and when he was fully armed? Why can't this man show a little intelligence? So, because of that minor disagreement over a mere stick, he backed out of a coup he was a ringleader? He backed out after shooting him. He lost control and fired him?
No, he gave the impression that he lost control and left the place while the soldiers took General Ironsi and Colonel Fajuyi away.
That is his pack of lies. Was I there? Is my Johnny alive to tell me what happened? Those who were there, who saw everything, he waited until they are dead before opening his mouth wide and try to poison my family. It's only God that will pay him back. God will pay him back in his own coins.
The way you are talking, it's like you can never forgive Danjuma.
Danjuma? Me forgive Danjuma? Look at Gowon. Gowon has shown that he is a man, he is not a coward. Gowon has shown that he is also a good Christian, a God-fearing man.
How did he show that?
Even if he had hands in killing my husband, he has come to the family and apologised. He said, please, forgive. And I said I don't hold anything against anybody. I said vengeance is for the Lord. Those who killed him, I leave them to God. I myself, I don't bear grudges against anybody. Even though Mrs. Aguiyi-Ironsi is still in this country, alive, do they want to know whether I'm alive or dead? Do they remember me?
Do they remember my late husband? Do they remember my children? Have they said that when we killed this man, he hadn't a penny, let's do something for his family? Let us go and put a little shelter upon their head? Do they care whether we live in an open market or under a bridge? They don't know. They don't care. Yet, these are people who we used our youth and all our strength to work for. But we have become a sacrificial lamb but I know the God of heaven is alive and He is seeing everything.
Okay, what if Danjuma changes his mind tomorrow and walks up to your house and say, 'Ma, I'm sorry for everything. Forgive us'. Would you forgive him?
I'm a child of God.
I know, but would you forgive him straight from your heart?
Me? Who am I not to forgive? I'm a Knight of Saint John; so, I will always forgive people so that God in Heaven can forgive me of my own sins too.
Saturday Sun, February 23, 2008
We need Biafra of mind, not physical –Ohaneze Youth Leader
From OBINNA IBE, Umuahia
THE General Secretary of the youth arm of Ohanaeze Ndigbo, Chief Chuks Ibegbu has advised the President of Movement for Actualization of Sovereign State of Biafra (MASSOB) to change his tactics.
Speaking in Umuahia during a chat with National Daily, Ibegbu maintained that ''what the Igbos needed now is the Biafra of the mind and not physical BIAFRA.''
The scribe held the view that having invested much in the Nigeria Project, ''Igbos cannot afford to be foreigners,'' adding, '' we are already champions of the Nigerian Federation.''
He recalled that illustrious Igbo sons like late Dr Nnamdi Azikiwe and l ate Dr Michael Okpara fought for Independence of the country stressing that they were the owners of Nigeria and could not be strangers in the same nation.
THE Ohanaeze youth leader advised the MASSOB leader to demand from the federal government a redress of the structural imbalances in states creation, by giving Igbos more states, more local governments as done on other geopolitical zones of the country.
Obasanjo's historic visit to Amichi
Chukwujekwu Ilozue, Onitsha
The rumour was rife penultimate week that President Olusegun Obasanjo would pay a flying visit to Anambra State. The story was that a certain member of the Federal House of Representative who was said to have found favour in the eyes of the President was bringing him down to his community where he would be conferred with a chieftaincy title. Just as the rumour spread, there ensued disagreement in that town. Without a monarch prominent people from the town held one another on the throat in a bid to take credit for the conferment. At the end they seemed to have behaved like the proverbial foolish dinosaurs which killed one another in mistaken triumph while intelligent by- standers inherited their kingdom.
For a week later, another rumour began to make the rounds of the president's visit. It was promptly dismissed as one of those rumours. What strong assignment would bring the president to Anambra State whose leadership he holds with scorn? Many asked. Since the assumption of office of governor Chris Ngige and following the protracted political crisis which is as a result of disagreement between him and his erstwhile godfather, Chief Chris Uba, the president has never visited Anambra State either on official capacity state level or on a private capacity.
However, the more people dismissed the rumour of the president's visit, the more facts emerged that the president would indeed come. The information that he would visit the state to attend Chief Simon Nsobundu Okeke, chairman of Police Service Commission's birthday sounded a little incredible to many as Chief Obasanjo is not particularly known to spare time for such mundane leisure. Even as the story stuck, another problem was that until the visit was confirmed by Aso Rock, any information of his visit could not be relied upon.
In Awka, journalists kept on guessing until January 6, when Mr. Emma Onuoha of 'The Sunday Magazine', a Nigerian Television Authority (NTA) airtime programme came visiting. Onuoha has been Okeke's close friend for years. So, when he got to his friend's house, it was obvious that journalists in Anambra State had no confirmation of the programme and, of course, there was no arrangement for the coverage.
Okeke, big as he is, has successfully shielded himself from the lime light. In a tribe that celebrates life, Okeke would have been a monument himself. The fact that he was the first indigenous Chief executive of Knight, Frank and Rutley, a foremost Estate firm way back in 1965 would have made Okeke an institution were he to be a Yoruba man. But, as an Ibo who takes life very serious until President Obasanjo appointed him Police Service Commission chairman and his people organized his birthday for him, in the course of which information about his person was exposed, not many people knew much about Chief Simon Okeke Obodoyibo (European).
It was Onuoha, therefore that gave insight into what really attracted the President to Amichi, a town which battles for prominence in the face of its giant neighbour, Nnewi.
He told journalists in Awka that unknown to them, and that was a day before the president's visit, an advanced team of security operatives has already swarmed Amichi and environ, sniffing at the entire area to ensure the president's safety. They should not be blamed. Apart from the usual routine of such security alertness, Anambra State is seen by outsiders as a war zone since the political crisis. It is no wonder also that on the morning of January 7, the day of the president's visit, soldiers, police and plainclothes security men literally took over the streets of Awka and environ. Yet, Amichi, the town the president visited and surrounding towns had no visible presence of security personnel that morning. The same security apprehension may also have informed the president's arrival of Amichi by a helicopter, and thereby denying even his subjects, Anambra people, the opportunity, of beholding his face and waving hand.
Nevertheless, the president's arrival was greeted by an enthusiastic crowd who already crowded St. Andrew's Anglican Church, Amichi, for Okeke's thanksgiving service. When his helicopter marked 5N BDY landed on the school field opposite the church, the service simply came to an end. On hand to receive him were governors Chris Ngige and Achike Udenwa of Imo State, Service Chiefs and all. His first encounter with Ngige who may not have come close to the president for a long time, seem to begin with what looked like a long argument. For about 10 minutes, the President and Ngige talked without smiles showing on their faces, and each gesticulating to buttress his point. Throughout their stay at the open space opposite Okeke's compound, venue of the birthday ceremony, the president never enjoyed much jokes with Ngige. When he wanted to take on him during his speech, he, Ngige was saved by the crowd who hailed him. So, Ngige escaped the spanking, which, maybe, is now reserved for another day.
President Obasanjo said that he came to Amichi for four reasons; first to rejoice and celebrate with Okeke and his family for his turning the biblical three scores and ten. Second, according to him he was also at Amichi to encourage him and his family. For the past four years, he said, Okeke has been at the helm of affairs at Police Service Commission, a task that has not been easy.
Obasanjo said the commission has to do more to arrive at the target he set for it. The third reason he was at Amichi he said, is to greet the people of Amichi, which he described as a historical town. Fourthly, he continued, he was there to thank and commend the people of the town for the role they played during "the unfortunate civil war, and their contributions in the peace and reconciliation of the country after that war".
Most importantly, however, Obasanjo was at Amichi on a return visit after his first on January 13, 1970, during which he received instruments of surrender from the deputy leader of the defunct Republic of Biafra. He also corrected some errors in the record of when the war actually ended. Said he: "Actually I came here on the 13th day of January, 1970. Things were confused and if I had left the troupe on their own, there would have been real massacre, so I had to start going round chasing the troupe and also chasing what remained of the leadership of Biafra. Like some said, I met late Effiong who was acting head of government, my friend; I met late Patrick Amadi who was commanding what was Biafran Army; I met late Chief Mbanefo, late C. N. Okeke, the head of Police. At that meeting, the war technically ended. The rest was ceremonials. At that end of the war, peace and reconciliation also began here". Obasanjo said that since then he had not had the opportunity to come to Amichi, so that when Okeke gave him invitation to attend the birthday and he realized that he is from Amichi, he did not hesitate to accept it, and to come. He said that there are many things that need to be learnt. He regretted that "there are many good things that are swept under the carpet and bad things glorified in our bid to run ourselves down".
Obasanjo said that they are not many civil wars that ended like Nigeria's without war tribunals or termination of the people that lost the war. What is more, within 10 years of it, somebody from the defeated side emerged the Vice-President of the country. He said that all these call for celebration because, for instance, it took the Americans more than 100 years before it could recognize the South as an integral part of that continent.
His visit, therefore, is to underline, the peace, the reconciliation, the amity, the love and the understanding that emanated from the end of the civil war". The president later went to Chief Ben. Atuchukwu's villa in Umudim Amichi which served as the headquarters of Biafra's military intelligence where the instruments of surrender were handed over to him that January 13, 1970.
The president's visit was a form for reunion of sorts. Visibly present at the occasion were Chief Emeka Anyaoku, former Common Wealth Secretary General who presided over the ceremony, former Vice President, Dr. Alex Ekwueme who many people believed may not have met with the president in recent times, Chief Emmanule Iwuanyanwu, Ministers including former Aviation Minister Dr. (Mrs.) Kema Chikwe, Inspector-General of Police, Mr. Sunday Ehindero, Chief Mrs. Maria Ejielo and her Women Foundation of Nigeria team, Service Chiefs members of the National Legislature, party Chieftains and so on.
The Archbishop of Province II and Dean of Anglican Communion, Dr. Maxwell Anikwenwa and the Anglican Bishop of Nnewi, Dr. Godwin I. N. Okpala conducted the thanksgiving service.
In his vote of thanks, Okeke appreciated the attedance of everybody. He traced his relationship with Obasanjo to 1974 when he threw a party for him at Pacadilli circles. That party, he said was attended by Ekwueme and Anyaoku. He recalled that he was in the team lead by Obasanjo to Radio Biafra at Obodoukwu where the leaders announced the end of the Civil War. Okeke who holds the title of Ochando (Shelter) among other titles was appointed the first ever chairman of PSC on November 28, 2001 by President Obasanjo. Even since then, he has "laboured to restore order, due process and regular promotions in the Police Service which hitherto was left at the discretion of a few highly-placed officials", according to his citation.
Source: Daily Independent, 15th January 2006.
Obasanjo Blames Biafran War on Nigerian Society
Okey Maduforo, Awka
Thirty-six years after the end of the 30-month Nigerian civil war, the war has been blamed on the failure of the country's socio- political system to ensure peaceful resolution of conflicts that besieged the nation's polity.
However, Nigerians have been enjoined to face the challenges of the war, which are to ensure that the society moves beyond the conflicts.
President Olusegun Obasanjo who made this disclosure at Amichi in Nnewi South of Anambra State, where a final peace talk and settlement that ended the civil war was made in January 13 1970, urged Nigerians to embrace peace.
"Nobody loves war, or conflict, nobody loves disorganisation, uncertainty, pains, death or suffering but when it happens, it is not the failure of human beings, probably the failure of a system. But the challenge to human beings and society is to move beyond conflicts and also ensure that at the end of the day, they are all children of God".
Obasanjo, who was represented by the Special Adviser on Policy and Programme Monitoring, Prof. Julius Oyavre, further charged Nigerians to draw strong lessons from the civil war and learn to regard one another, listen to each other, support those who are weak, while encouraging those that are strong in order to grow together as a people, acommunity and as a nation.
He assured Nigerians of his "unreserved, unshakeable and undivided peace and harmony among the various ethnic groups that make up the nation.
In his speech at the occasion, Anambra State Governor, Dr. Chris Ngige, described January 13, as a symbolic day in the annals of Nigerian history, adding that Nigerians should congratulate themselves, especially those in the defunct Biafran Republic, for the peaceful ending of the war without pockets of hostilities that usually snowballs into gorilla warfare soon after such wars.
"Such things take place in countries like Kosovo, Iran, Iraq war, Liberia and others, where at the end of the war, you begin to witness battles and hostilities which subsist and t lead to gorilla warfare. But here, God performed a miracle and all hostilities ended".
"The Igbo spirit of the old should come back with the end of the civil war. A situation in those days when we say yes and it is yes. But today we have ambivalent men whose yes mean no. Ndigbo are the greatest defendants of peace in Nigeria and we are still paying the supreme price of the civil war in Nigeria.
Speaking earlier, the man in whose house, the then Col. Olusegun Obasanjo and late Col. Philip Effiong negotiated the final peace talk and settlement, Chief Benjamin Atuchukwu said, "It was here that the rebirth of one united Nigeria took place. It was right here in this house, in this Umudim village, in this town Amichi. It was not by accident that the man who negotiated that final peace is now the president today.
"We anxiously look forward to a more befitting National Peace Movement in this house. We do believe that what is worth doing is worth doing well. Let us therefore pursue this project with vigour and the National Assembly agree with the president for once that this National Peace Movement shall be built and founded here in this house," he said.
The high point of the occasion was the availing the peace plague to commemorate the peaceful resolution of the Nigeria civil war, by Governor Chris Ngige.
Source: Daily Independent, 15th January 2006.
Let's Avoid the Mistakes that Led to the Civil War
President Olusegun Obasanjo has warned that Nigerians tolerate the views of others on national issues so as to avoid the mistakes that culminated in the Nigerian Civil War in 1967.
Obasanjo's warning Friday evening in Amichi, in Anambra State, where the war ended on January 13, 1970,came barely one week after he paid a visit to the town.
He had instructed that a plaque to commemorate the cessation of hostilities between the Federal troops and the troops of the defunct Biafran Government be unveiled on Friday (January 13, 2006) in Amichi as a symbol of the town's role in reuniting Nigerians 36 years ago.
The plaque was unveiled by Governor Chris Ngige in the home of 90-year-old Pa Benjamin Atuchukwu, who played host to representatives of the two warring sides at the same venue 36 years ago.
The Federal side, which received the instrument of surrender from the Biafrans, was led by the then Col. Olusegun Obasanjo, while Col. Phillip Effiong led the latter.
The President, who was represented at Friday's event by his Special Adviser on Policy and Programmes Monitoring, Prof, Julius Oyavbare, once again, regretted the setbacks the war caused the nation, adding that the only way to avoid a repeat was for Nigerians to accommodate one another.
He said, "Nobody loves wars, nobody loves conflicts, violence, deaths, pain and suffering. But, they do happen; when they happen, it is not the failure of human beings but probably the failure of a system.
"However, the challenge to human beings and society is to move beyond a particular conflict and ensure that at the end of the day, we are all reunited as children of God.
"I assure all of our total and undiluted commitment to peace, harmony, accommodation, tolerance, inclusion and negotiation at all times."
On the peace and conflict resolution centre, the president's aide added that the details of the project were already being worked out in Abuja by the federal government.
"I am sure that in a couple of weeks or so, you will see the rolling out of a major initiative on establishing the centre in Amichi here to be supported by large measures of international organisations", he said.
To make Amichi easily accessible to researchers, who might visit the proposed centre for research, he said that social facilities such as roads and adequate power sources would be provided for the area.
Meanwhile, Anambra State Governor, Dr. Chris Ngige, while unveiling the plaque, restated the preparedness of the Igbo race to remain united with the rest of Nigeria.
According to him, their commitment can be seen in the fact that in spite of recording the highest casualties in major conflicts in the country, they have always remained committed to one Nigeria.
"Everywhere you go in Nigeria where there are religious or other conflicts, the Igbo are always the target; they are killed and they lose property.
"But, we have said that in the spirit of one Nigeria, let us remain united, let us continue to live in peace with others", he added.
However, Pa Atuchukwu, challenged the Federal Government to go beyond the commemorative plaque and build what he called "a befitting monument" in Amichi as a symbol of the town's historic role in resolving the 30-month-old Nigerian Civil War.
Source: Sunday PUNCH, January 15, 2006
Obasanjo Wants Conflict Centre In Amichi
FROM CHUKS COLLINS, AWKA
President Olusegun Obasanjo has expressed his desire for the establishment of a Centre for Peace, Reconciliation and Conflict Resolution in Amichi, Nnewi South council of Anambra State.
The centre, according to him would be made accessible to researchers, students, historians and tourists as well as the general public, who want to tap from the historical heritage of the nation's past and path to peace.
The president, who was represented by his Special Adviser on Policy and Programme Monitoring, Prof. Julius Ihonvbere, disclosed this during the unveiling of the commemorative plaque erected at the spot where the final peace talk and settlement, which ended the last civil war, was sealed on January 13, 1970.
While calling on every Nigerian to join hands in building peaceful, stable and prosperous nation that would be the pride of all, he noted with emphasis that the nation's road to peace and stability started at that spot in Amichi community.
Anambra State governor, Chris Ngige, in his remarks, described January 13, 1970 as a symbolic day in the annals of the nation's history and peace, pointing out that it was by the grace of God that a lasting peace was achieved since the war ended.
Source: The Guardian, 15th January 2006.
Nigerian Civil War: Obasanjo Unveils Unity Plague
From Charles Onyekamuo in Awka
For the second time in One week, President Olusegun Obasanjo visited Amichi, in Nnewi South Local Government Area of Anambra state in commemoration of the peace emanating from the 30 month Nigerian Civil war which ended 36 years ago.
He had flown into what he described as the "historical town of Amichi" on January 7, to felicitate with the chairman of the Police Service Commission, Chief Simon Okeke who turned 70 then, and during which he relieved the events that led to the official surrender of the then Republic of Biafra on January 15, 1970. He had insisted that the war technically ended on January 13, of that same year when the process of surrender and meetings with the remnants of Biafra leadership began.
He had also pledged government's readiness to raise a monument in memorial of that event.
And exactly one week after, at the weekend, President Obasanjo came to unveil what he called "The Peace and Unity Plague" raised in the house of Chief Ben Atuchukwu, 90, in whose house the then Biafran leadership led by Col. Philip Effiong signed the cessation of hostilities between Biafra and the Federal Government with then Col. Olusegun Obasanjo. On the plague is written: "This serves to commemorate the cessation of Hostilities between the Nigerian Federal Troops and the Biafran Troops which was attained through a negotiated agreement that took place in this building in Amichi Town on January 13, 1970. The then Col. Olusegun Obasanjo led the Nigerian Federal Troops side, while Col. Philip Effiong led the defunct Biafran Government side of Sir. Louis Mbanefo, Mr. P.N. Okeke, Mr. Bernard Odogwu and Lt. Col, P.C. Amadi at the epoch making ceasefire meeting that technically brought to an end the Nigerian Civil war of 6th July 1967 to 15th January, 1970".
Represented by one of his aides, Prof. Julius Ihonvbere, President Obasanjo decried war as serving no useful purpose, but rather creating discomfort and loss of lives.
"Nobody loves war. It brings discomfort and loss of life and property. It is a manifest rejection of an unjust system, and the challenge facing mankind today is how to sustain peace, tolerance and accommodation.
"We must learn to tolerate one another, so that we can all march together in peace and progress", he said.
The president said the Federal Government had found the need to establish a Centre for Peace, Reconciliation and conflict Resolution in Amichi, which would be accessible to researchers from all over the world, International Students, the AU, the UN, and other organizations and nations in search of peace.
"Such a Centre would take-off without hesitation given the historic importance of the town in the country's search for peace. The road to our country's peace and stability started here", he said and enjoined all Nigerians to join hands and build a peaceful, stable and prosperous country that would be the pride of all.
Anambra state Governor, Dr. Chris Ngige had said that President Obasanjo was very enthusiastic about the Centre. Three days before the unveiling of the Peace Plague, Ngige said he had got the President at Ota, Ogun state, where he spoke and told him what the plans would look like.
"He (President) chose January 13, the day the war technically ended because it was very significant", he said, adding that the ceremony was very impressive.
The Igbo, Ngige said had to congratulate themselves for ending the war the way they did because according to him in some parts of the world, even when a civil war was said to have ended, people still take to the bush and fight guerrilla warfare.
"But in this case, God took control and things went smoothly. If you asked Liberians, you will understand they have not gotten out of their war, Kosovo and even in Irag, it is not all smiles", he said.
He urged the Igbo to go back to the olden days when their "yes", was yes, and discard their "yes" now that it has become ambivalent.
"Today, we are the greatest defender of Nigerian Unity, of Nigeria, and we are still paying the prices. If you go to Maiduguri, Kano and else where, if there is religious crisis, they kill Ndi-Igbo", he said.
Amichi, he said remained a unique town in history and noted that the total acquisition of the edifice where the ceasefire agreement was reached and the expansion of the compound could be considered strong possibilities that could lead to the take-off of the proposed peace, Reconciliation and Conflict Resolution Centre, if there is a firm negotiation between the owner of the building, with the federal government.
Ngige used the Occasion to reassure the people of the area that Amichi-Orsumenyi-Ezinifite road awarded to one Chief Leonard Okoye, an Aba based businessman during the Mbadinuju administration was not abandoned as the state government was making frantic efforts to drag him back to site. He threatened to get the contractor arrested if he did not commence the construction of the over 30 kilometer road before the end of this quarter, adding that money for the road had been paid.
Earlier, Ben. Atuchukwu, 90, had in a welcome address read on his behalf by Sir Joe Atuchukwu, one of his sons explained how the epoch history of peace was made in his house by the then Colonels Philip Effiong and Olusegun Obasanjo for Biafra and Nigerian troops respectively.
"It was here that now President Olusegun Obasanjo negotiated the final peace talk and settlement that technically ended the much dreaded civil war. It was on the first floor of this house that the young compassionate Colonel Obasanjo extended a warm handshake that ended all hostilities. It was in this house, 36 years ago today that the OAU conditions of ending the war were accepted and the final surrender was agreed. In a small bedroom in this house, the two giants of peace met privately and dotted all the "is" and crossed all the "ts".
"Your Excellency, it was here that the rebirth of one United Nigeria took place. It was right here in this house, in this Umudim Village, in this town Amichi, in this local government, and most and above all in this Anambra state.
"Your Excellency, it was not by accident that all these happened when, where and how. It was not by accident that the man who negotiated that final peace is now the President today", he said.
Atuchukwu said that though he and the members of his family accepted the presidential directive for a monument, but that they were anxiously looking forward to a more befitting "National Peace monument", adding that he would like a situation in which the National Assembly would agree with the president that the National Peace monument would be built and funded in his house, and expressed the belief that the president was sincere on January 7, "when he proclaimed on the same historic first floor of this house, that a peace monument should be erected here".
Source: This Day, 15th January 2006.
Biafra, Nigeria, and the Road not taken
By Obi Nwakanma
Vanguard, January 15, 2006
TODAY marks the 40th year of the Ifeajuna coup, also now known as the Nzeogwu coup, or the coup of the five majors of January 15, 1966.The importance of that event in Nigeria's post-colonial history needs to be placed in perspective. On this day, after addressing troops in Lagos, after a party in Brigadier Maimalari's house in Ikoyi, Lagos, Major Emmanuel Arinze Ifeajuna, gave the orders for the coup to commence North and South of Nigeria; with the intention of seizing the government of the republic and reconstituting it within a radical alternative.
On getting his orders, Major PCK Nzeogwu, leader of the Northern sector of the coup, commenced the military operation in which the powerful premier of the defunct Northern region was executed, alongside key military officers like Brigadier Ademulegun, and Colonel Ralph Sodeinde. In the South, the Lagos operations resulted in the unfortunate, even needless deaths of the prime minister, Abubakar Tafawa Balewa, the minister of finance, Festus Okotie-Eboh, the premier of the Western region, Mr. Samuel Ladoke Akintola, and key military officers like Maimalari, Arthur Unegbe, Abogo Largema, and Yakubu Pam.
The Premiers of the Eastern region, and the Midwestern region, both were unharmed, although by the time Ifeajuna arrived the East to secure the government, the coup had failed in Lagos, and loyalist troops, led by General JTU Aguiyi-Ironsi, had quashed the coup. Ifeajuna managed to outline, in a very slim narrative, his account of that coup, in a book, which has remained unpublished, although snippets of the manuscript can be found in many references, including Olusegun Obasanjo's My Command. I have also read the hagiography on Yakubu Gowon by his former Press Secretary on how he stopped the coup in Lagos. It reads no worse than fiction. Ifeajuna's coup was stopped in Lagos by General Ironsi, period.
But the January coup soon became known as "the Igbo coup" - a phrase generally retailed by British agents working in Nigeria and propagated through the BBC. Scholars of Nigeria's political history can now fully disclose how these British elements working especially in the North, organized and mobilized what later became known as the "retaliation coup" which took place on July 29, 1966, led by the late Murtala Muhammed, in which the then Major Theophilius Danjuma allegedly supervised the arrest and subsequent execution of the Supreme commander, General Ironsi, and the military governor of the Western Region, Col. Francis Fajuyi. The killers of Ironsi are Generals today. Some like Paiko is dead. William Walbe is living in quiet retirement in Jos. Jeremiah Useni who was a sergeant was the truck driver that drove Ironsi and Fajuyi to that spot on Iwo road where they were dispatched with bursts of automatic fire after humiliating torture. Alongside Ironsi was the systematic annihilation of Eastern Nigerian officers in the Army.
The bloodbath of July 1966 was followed by the pogrom - the widespread killing of the Igbo in various places in the North and even in the West. General Yakubu Gowon became head of state after toppling Ironsi, and the issue of his ascension became central to what later turned out to be the Nigerian civil war. Various kinds of interpretation had been deployed to explain the Nigerian civil war. Part of the reasons with which a generation of Nigerians came to be familiar is the hogwash about Ojukwu and Igbo ambition. But eventually, the truths are emerging out of contemporary experience in Nigeria; it is important that a new debate is emerging about the Nigerian civil war, and how it constitutes the fundamental turn in Nigeria's 20th century history - what I call its own bend in the river.
Two weeks ago, Brigadier Oluwole Rotimi, former quartermaster general and former military governor of the Western Region under the Gowon tyranny put in perspective the historical truth that led to Biafra. His comments followed Duro Onabule's vindication of Ojukwu in his critique of the Southern politicians meeting in Enugu. It is true that all these statements came out of rather interesting circumstances, but they open the debate on the events of 1966.
Penultimate week, the president, Olusegun Obasanjo, visited Amichi to celebrate with Dr. S.N. Okeke, chairman of the Police Service Commission on marking his 70th year. Obasanjo again, touched upon the circumstances of the civil war, and called for a final resolution or reconciliation. In making those statements, it's apparent that Obasanjo recognizes that the issue of Biafra remains unresolved. It is an issue which a generation which was born or weaned in the heat of that war has once more resurrected because the entire framework of reconciliation, the condition upon which the Igbo returned to Nigeria and abandoned the option of a long, tedious guerrilla warfare, was dismantled by Nigeria before the ink dried on the paper on which the conditions of surrender were written.
In 1970, Nigeria had a chance to thread the path of peace and progress, the path of equity and true reconciliation; the path of true toleration: but those were the roads never taken. It embarked upon a systematic oppression of what was the territory of Biafra; it dismantled the federal union and imposed upon Nigeria a unitary state; it created a phalanx of millionaire Generals from a former subaltern group, which neither had the intellectual or ideological capacity to run a modern, postcolonial state: the result states us in the face today.
Obasanjo's plea at Amichi is possible, but increasingly late: with the widespread impoverishing of Nigerians, North and South, we have created a fragile polity: the most dangerous historical condition of nationhood is the collapse of the middle class, the traditional mainstay of the national will. With the entry and domination of the domain of power by a very ignorant elite, Nigeria risks the failure of its nationhood. With increasing religious, ethnic and very apparent class disparity, Nigeria has broken into its historical fault lines. The events of 1966 emphasized those fault lines, but Nigeria had a chance in 1970 to take the path of progress, instead it took the path of tyranny, and oppression, the path of greed and corruption.
The path of progress was that turn which was never taken. We mark today, so that we shall remember, that this nation has a history which remains unresolved. For as long as it is so, in vain shall we seek restitution.
After Biafra, the new agenda
By Banji Ojewale
At the time Chukwuemeka Odumegwu-Ojukwu was born in Zungeru in Northern Nigeria in November 1933, the country was a staid colony ruled by the equally conservative Britons. Their policy promoted, nevertheless, a pot-pourri of radical and level-headed personalities in industry and politics.
The era threw up Sir Louis Odumegwu Ojukwu from Nnewi in Eastern Nigeria who had moved on from being a prosperous, but unremarkable businessman to the owner of Nigeria's largest road haulage empire and a multi-millionaire.
Young Emeka not only inherited these resources but also fell under the powerful influence of the old man. He was ruthless in educating his son, such that in most of the schools Emeka attended, he was the youngest. One of Emeka's biographers Frederick Forsyth, has this to say: "He was at ten the youngest ever to enter King's College, Lagos. In forcing the pace of his son's education, Louis Odumegwu Ojukwu was without mercy. He set himself a gruelling pace of hard work and was not going to make any exception for his son, no matter how young the boy was".
Later Ojukwu senior is reported to have consulted an English friend over the child's academic career. This resulted in the boy moving to Epsom College, Surrey, England far a programme "designed to turn him into an English gentleman."
He went on to Oxford University, where rebelling against his father he chose to read Modern History rather than law, which his old man wanted. At this ancient institution, Emeka met other Nigerians : Harold Oluwasanmi, Philip Asiodu and Allison Ayida. They pledged that on their return to Nigeria they would serve the people and not seek personal advancement.
In 1957, armed with a Master's Degree from Oxford, Emeka joined the Army. An outraged Sir Louis banned his son from the family house for three years and asked the colonial military officers to make life difficult for Emeka.
But a new personality had arrived on the scene, a far cry from the pliable boy Sir Louis would control at will in the forties. It was this new personage that sought freedom and what he caused "real life" for the Igbo in 1967 in a civil war in Nigeria.
Last week, he felt the promptings again to redeem the pledge while at Oxford. Analysts say Ojukwu's resort to secede from Nigeria was also an answer to that oath. That enterprise having failed, and still seeing himself a Nigerian the only path to honouring his name is certainly not to sit on the fence, but to throw himself into politics where he can "serve the people".
Ojukwu's involvement in politics hasn't been as successful as his military and academic careers. He joined the ruling National Party of Nigeria (NPN) on his return from a 12-year exile after the civil war. The party was a hate symbol among the Igbo. In the days of Sani Abacha, he disdained the June 12 struggle, which most progressive Nigerians including the Igbo embraced. He even went on to participate in polls, whose mandate he rated superior to June 12. It ostracized him farther.
Ojukwu has since joined the main South-East political party, the All Nigeria Peoples Party (APGA), becoming its presidential candidate in last year's elections. He crashed in the flawed polls. The ex-Biafran is irrepressible however. He has gone to court over the electoral exercise and lost. But he believes it's not all over.
In the past 12 months, he has teamed up with scores of fellow losers to form a series of pacts aimed at whipping up popular support to fight the ruling PDP.
The latest is the Ethnic Nationalities Forum in Lagos. The gathering paraded a galaxy: Ojukwu, Olu Falae, Chekwas Okorie, Tunji Brathwaite, Kalu Idika Kalu, Kimse Okoko, Ganiyu Dawodu, Ayo Adebanjo.
What do they want? There is a need for the convocation of a sovereign national conference to address grave and fundamental issues of Nigeria's existence. The leadership of ethnic nationalities such as the Igbo, Ijaw, Yoruba, Igala, Idoma, Tiv and Muslim and Christian associations jointly made the call.
Ojukwu, speaking on behalf of the group, surveyed the course of democratic rule in the past five years and concluded: "Five years within officialdom, there has been no democracy, what they have done is to try to camouflage … it will be difficult for us to install democracy".
DI, 2nd June 2004
Civil war: Akwa Ibom demands compensation
By Bassey Inyang
Exactly thirty three years after the end of the Nigerian Civil War, the people of Awka Ibom State have mounted campaigns for the payment of reparations to indigenes of the State who were affected by the war.
The sudden emergence of a campaign in this direction followed what the protagonist ascribed to the poor state of infrastructure in the state, stressing that most of them were destroyed during the civil war.
Besides, most property belonging to individuals, and public infrastructure that were destroyed during the war have been left in a state of disrepair.
The chairman of Afe-Anang in the South-South zone of the country, Chief David Udofa who made the call on behalf of the people noted that most families are still reeling in the pains and anguish occasioned by the 30 months war, which lasted from July 1967 to January 1970.
He spoke during a visit by members of the group to the state Deputy Governor, Obong Chris Ekpenyong.
Speaking further on the issue, Udofa stated that the state, especially areas that share boundaries with the Southeast zone were adversely affected.
To this end, he said, the group would press for payment of compensation to families that were affected.
According to the chairman, the group would take its campaign to the presidency to ensure that the people of the state were adequately compensated.
The state deputy governor, Ekpenyong who played host to the group promised that their demands would be conveyed to the appropriate authorities. Ekpenyong stated that the state has been in the forefront of the struggle for emancipation of the people, adding that peoples' struggle could be traced to the era of the Aba women riot of 1929.
Igbos Treated as Conquered People, Says Chukwumerije
By Adetutu Folashade-Koyi and Chesa Chesa
Although, the civil war ended almost 34 years ago, Igbos are still treated as a conquered people, said Senator Uche Chukwumerije, who expressed no regrets serving a military regime 10 years ago.
At an interactive session with the Senate press corps yesterday, Chukwumerije, who served as Information secretary during Chief Ernest Shonekan's Interim National Government (ING) stated that a lot of injustice still persist in Nigeria with the standard of living falling by as much as 400 per cent in the last one year.
He said: "Most of the injustices in Nigeria are systemic regimes, nothing but helpless instruments. The level of injustice in Nigeria has been the same. The Igbos are still being treated as "conquered people. They are still being marginalised. The marginalisation is a multi-dimensional injustice. The cost of living has increased beyond the reach of the people. Between last year and now, life has been devalued by, at least 400 per cent. That I believe, is the greatest injustice. Asked if he regretted the role he played during the inglorious military era, the senator representing Abia State, replied: "I do not regret. When the time comes for elaboration you would see it. I certainly have no regrets serving the military."
It's Time to Put Civil War Experience Behind Us
By Joseph Ushigiale
In its determination to usher in an avenue for reconciliation and national rebirth, the Osigwe Anyiam-Osigwe Foundation is to build a National Unity Arc and Reconciliation Cenotaph which would "serve as a watershed for the divisive trend that is still dogging us in Nigeria", the Co-ordinator for the Foundation, Mr. Michael Anyiam-Osigwe has said.
He stated that the cenotaph that is slated to be built at the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja "will sensitise Nige-rians to the debilitating impact of war. It will be promotional of non-violence as a fundamental and superior alternative to violence in the pursuit of justice and equity".
On why the establishment of the project has become imperative, Anyiam-Osigwe maintained that "from 1967 - 1970, Nigeria was subjected toa monumental loss of about three million lives from what history has come to acknowledged as the Nigerian civil war. In the three years of hostilities, human and natural resources laid waste, our environment was devastated, national solidarity encumbered and development stunted".
He emphasised that " 33 years after the civil war, the contending social variables that are fundamental in the polity do not indicate that the citizens have benefitted from the hindsight of history".
According him, "with the prevalence of youths militia built around ethnic cleavages, the sense of nationhood is beoing mechanically eroded by a declining loyalty on the part of the larger populace who are more attuned to thye interest and dictates of their primordial societies".
Anyiam-Osigwe said the Foundation has resolved to engage in the project which will bear the names of all those who died in the civil Nigerian war on both sides of the conflict, whether civilians or soldiers just as has been done in Israel, so that "future generations should immensely benefit from the hindsight provided by our chequered past as it relates to the civil war, its causes and its impact".
On the modalities for the construction of the cenotaph, he explained that "project is expected to be constructed through publioc contributions. To start with, we have applied to the Minister of the Federal Capital Territory FCT) for the allocation of a one- square mile land space. After which we will solicit a N10 voluntary contribution from Nigerians to make the project a reality".
He disclosed that the foundation is targetted thye first quarter of next year for the beginning and completion of the project which will provide a platform for reflection, adding that "if we do not confront our past, no matter how negative, and learn from our our experiences, we will never transcend to a level of neutralising it".
Igbo won't apologise over civil war, says Okorafor
By Chukwudi Abiandu
The Igbo should never apologise for the stand they took to preserve their lives in the 1960s, one-time senator and a chieftain of the People's Democratic Party (PDP), Onyeka Okorafor, has said.
Speaking in Lagos, in reaction to a question on the report that Abia State Governor, Dr. Orji Uzor Kalu, apologised on behalf of the Igbo asking that they be forgiven over the civil war, Okorafor described the report as unfortunate if Governor Kalu indeed made the statement. He said he however learnt that the governor said he was quoted out of context, adding therefore that he is inclined to believe Governor Kalu.
Okorafor argued that no one knowing what happened and the circumstances that led to the war should ever apologise for that stand that the Igbo took to preserve their lives and property. "The war cannot be put behind us, until Nigerians elect a capable Igbo man as the president of this country. And I believe when it comes to the turn of the Southeast or Igbo, Nigerians of all shades of opinion would back the Southeasterner without recriminating on the past. After all, the most patriotic Nigerians are the Igbo," Okorafor said.
Asked how he came to this conclusion, he explained: "It is the Igbo man that comes to a place and co-exist in any place they find themselves. They learn the language of their environment; they inter-marry and then contribute to the economic activities and the development of the area where they find themselves. No other major ethnic group does that in this country."
Ojukwu Defends Nigerian Civil War
From Amby Uneze in Calabar
Ikemba Nnewi and presidential candidate of the All Progressives Grand Allia-nce (APGA), Dim Chukw-uemeka Odumegwu-Ojukwu has declared that the Nigerian civil war of 1967 to 1970 was fought to make the country better and not to disintegrate it as perceived by many.
The ex-Biafra war lord, who made this statement at the weekend in Calabar at the burial of former Biafra propagandist and renowned broadcaster, late Okokon Ndem, maintained that such better idea was shared between him and Okokon Ndem for the progress of the country.
"I'm so proud to be with you today. I recognise he was a hero. The simple life of Okokon Ndem made us proud to make Nigeria better. A struggle to make Nigeria proud," he said.
Ojukwu, who drove in a convoy was accompanied by senior Igbo leaders and APGA chieftains, including the party's national chairman, Chief Chekwas Okorie, Abia State APGA governorship candidate in Chief Onwuka Kalu and the secretary-general of Igbo National Assembly, Chief Onwuka Ukwa.
In his tribute to the late Ndem, Ojukwu said his presence at the ceremony was to appreciate the late broadcaster for his role in the Biafran war, adding "I can say no better have you to him than to abandon the Igbo Day celebration going on at Enugu to be here."
"Today is Igbo Day celebration and I abandoned the ceremony in Enugu to be by his grave side. We shall never forget, throughout the existence of life we shall remember Okokon Ndem."
"Your late father was a hero. I assure you that he has left a worthy impression on all he served. On my part, as the leader of our people, I offer modestly my salute to this fallen hero. Ndigbo will never forget him, Biafrans, most certainly will forever honour him and Nigerians as a whole, will always respect, if nothing, his exemplary professionalism," he said.
The Governor of Cross River State, Mr. Donald Duke, said the late Okokon Ndem handled the propaganda of Biafra to the extent that neither Nigeria nor its opponent was sure of the real situation, a development which informed the announcement by General Yakubu Gowon (rtd) "as no victor no vanquished verdict at the end of the war."
Duke, who was represented by the secretary to the state government, Johnson Ebokpo prayed God to grant the soul of late Okokon Ndem eternal peace.
We Fought to Make Nigeria Better, Says Ojukwu
By Bassey Inyang
Ex-Biafran leader and presidential candidate of the All Progressive Grand Alliance (APGA), Dim Chukwuemeka Odumegwu Ojukwu at the weekend in Calabar stated that the bloody Nigerian civil war fought between July 1967 and December 1970 was to make Nigeria better rather than diminish it in status.
Ojukwu stated that they had to do that alongside the veteran broadcaster Late Okokon Ndem because of the conviction they shared that the people deserved a better deal.
The ex-warlord spoke while paying a personal tribute to Ndem whose remains was laid to rest at the weekend in Calabar, the Cross River State capital.
The APGA flagbearer while describing Ndem as a hero whose like was difficult to come by said he was a respected and beloved personality.
Before a mammoth crowed which gathered at the Cultural Centre Calabar, Ojukwu declared thus: "Before you let me proclaim that he is a hero the type of which is difficult to come by. Together we embarked on a struggle to make Nigeria better not to make Nigeria less."
He stated that he had to come to Calabar at the weekend despite the fact that the Igbo cultural day was being celebrated at Enugu because of the level of esteem to which he held Ndem and the family.
The former Biafran leader emphasised that the fallen hero will never be forgotten by those he left behind.
Ajaegbu condemns Kalu on apology
By Godwin Adindu
Mr Chidi Ajaegbu, president of the Abia Renaissance, a socio-political pressure group, has condemned Governor Orji Uzor Kalu for his apology on behalf of Igbo over the 1967-1970 civil war.
Ajaegbu, a Board member of the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Nigeria (ICAN), and the Managing Director of Mutual Alliance and Investment Limited, therefore urged Ndigbo to ignore Kalu's who he claimed was seeking cheap popularity to position himself for the position of vice-president come 2007.
He told Daily Independent, in an interview in Lagos, that the statements showed ignorance of the history and circumstances of the civil war, regretting that a serving Igbo governor could exhibit such on the Igbo cause.
Ajaegbu noted that the governor's political career had been marred by statements lacking good judgment, adding that the character Kalu was manifesting in governance had their roots in his background.
. "You see, you can't fault psychology and sociology. These two disciplines explain why we behave the way we do. Go back to Kalu's environment as a child," Ajaegbu advised in a bid to understand why the governor made the apology.
He said Ndigbo should forgive Kalu's "sacrilege against our collective spirit and posterity" as it is not easy for him to break off totally from his childhood and his past.
While commending Ohanaeze, the Igbo socio-political organisation and the Igbo groups that had condemned Kalu over the statement, Ajaegbu said by distorting the facts of the Biafran war, Kalu had offended the gods and the guardian spirits of Ndigbo and must make atonement.
He likened Kalu's behaviour as that of man ready to stake his family for political position. "But, I'm sorry, the Igbo is too big for one man to stake for his selfish political ambition," Ajaegbu declared.
Kalu was quoted to have told a group of northern politicians, including Chief Jerry Waya, who came to Umuahia to deliver a message from Vice-President Atiku Abubakar, that Nigerians should forgive the Igbo for the war, which claimed the lives of about three million Igbo, adding that the war was a mistake on the part of Ndigbo.
"Why should we continue to suffer for the mistakes of the past?" Kalu queried.
But, an avalanche of criticisms have trailed the statement with many Igbo groups dissociating themselves from the apology and calling for the governor's head.
Kalu Didn't Apologise Over Biafra, Says Terry Waya
The purported apology over the Nigerian Civil War by Governor Orji Kalu of Abia State is the fictional creation of some mischievous people, says Chief Terry Waya, who was at the event where the supposed apology took place.
In a press statement issued Wednesday, Waya, a notable businessman, said nothing of such came up during his visit to Government House, Umuahia, as has been widely touted in the past few days.
Below is text of the press statement:
My attention has been drawn to several newspaper reports and advertisements relating to the purported apology by the Abia State governor, Dr. Orji Uzor Kalu over the role of the Igbos in the Nigerian Civil War.
In the said reports and adverts, the Abia governor was quoted as having asked other Nigerians to forgive the Igbos for fighting the civil war.
The governor was also said to have made the purported statement during the visit of Chief Terry Waya to Government House.
I have been inundated with several calls by well-meaning Nigerians, including prominent Igbo sons and daughters asking for clarification of what actually transpired during my visit to Gov. Kalu and if indeed, Gov. Kalu actually apologised on behalf of the Igbos for their role in the civil war.
I therefore, wish to make this clarification and provide proper perspective of what actually transpired, since the polity is getting unnecessarily over-heated over a clearly misunderstood statement.
First, my journey to Abia State was a very personal and friendly visit which had nothing to do with the Vice-President.
In my company were two other governors, Gov. James Ibori of Delta State and Gov. Jolly Nyame of Taraba State. All of us were coming from burial of Gov. Odili's father in-law.
In the process of a thank you remark after the host governor had feted us, I was asked to give a vote of thanks on behalf of other visiting governors. Earlier on, Gov. Kalu pleaded with me that as a very close friend of the Vice-President, His Excellency Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, I should report to him on the state of decaying infrastructure, including Federal roads in the East.
At this point, I remarked that the VP had been working closely with President Olusegun Obasanjo to address the issues as raised by Gov. Kalu and that as a sign of good faith from the president, the Minister of Works had announced some roads which have been earmarked for immediate construction. I also added that should the Vice-president decide to run in 2007, the Igbo agenda will be very much on his mind.
Gov. Kalu could not have offered any such apology since the visit was not the appropriate forum neither were the visitors the appropriate persons to receive such an apology.
I also wish to use the opportunity to clarify other insinuations in the media to the effect that the said visit to Abia was to give tacit endorsement to Governor Orji Kalu as the running mate to the Vice-President should he bow to the clamour to run for President in 2007.
I wish to state categorically that at no point in our visit did this matter arise.
My humble self as a patriotic citizen of this country is one with Mr. Vice-President that the urgent question facing Nigeria now is to offer maximum support to President Olusegun Obasanjo in his vision to revamp the ailing Nigerian economy and other pressing national issues rather than diversionary debate about who will be president and Vice in 2007.
I want to enjoin all well meaning Nigerians and particularly the media to concentrate on other far more urgent tasks of national development rather than encourage emotive issues that can fan the embers of hate and passion.
Apology Over Civil War: Terry Waya Defends Orji Kalu
By Onyekachi Eze, Abuja.
As barrage of attacks continue to trail the apology purportedly rendered on behalf of Ndigbo over the Nigerian civil war by the Abia State Governor, Dr. Orji Uzor Kalu, Chief Terry Waya whose visit to Government House, Umuahia elicited the controversial apology has risen in defence of the governor.
Waya, a chieftain of the ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), in a statement in Abuja, said the governor was misunderstood by the statement he made during the visit. According to him, his visit to Abia was "a very personal and friendly" one which was made in company of two other governors, James Ibori of Delta State and Jolly Nyame of Taraba State.
"Gov. Kalu could not have offered any such apology since the visit was not the appropriate forum neither were the visitors the appropriate persons to receive such an apology," he stated. Rather, he said "Gov. Kalu pleaded with me that as a very close friend of the Vice-President, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, I should report to him on the state of decaying infrastructure, including federal roads in the East," he defended.
Waya said he had been inundated with several calls by well meaning Nigerians, including prominent Igbo sons and daughters for clarification on what actually transpired during the visit. He further debunked the insinuations that his visit to Abia "was a tacit endorsement of governor Orji Kalu as the running mate to the Vice President should he bow to the clamour to run for President in the year 2007". "I wish to state categorically that at no point in our visit did this matter arise," he concluded.
He advised Nigerians to concentrate on other more urgent tasks of national development rather than encourage emotive issues that could fan the embers of hate and passion.
President Obasanjo and Biafra Fixation
By UZOR MAXIM UZOATU
President Olusegun Obasanjo went to Bayelsa State the other time and ingloriously told the Balyesans: "The Biafra war was a war for resource control. If Nigeria had lost, that man (Ojukwu) would have cancelled Rivers State, which gave birth to Bayelsa State." Sound education was never Obasanjo's strong suit, so we can make an allowance or two if he cannot read history properly. But then, maybe the heinous pogrom in Northern Nigeria is Obasanjo's understanding.
We do need a few more quotes from Obasanjo's epistle in Bayelsa State. According to Obasanjo: "If Ojukwu had won, I know I would be dead by now and so many other people would be dead today." The cowardly incitement ingrained in this statement aside, one is at a loss if Obasanjo wants to be taken seriously as a Godspower Oyewole type of parapsychologist in prophesying what would have happened 30-odd years after the event!
It is even good that Chief Emeka Odumegwu Ojukwu does not want anyone to hold brief for him. Ojukwu has this to say of Obasanjo: "A lot of people are now prancing around claiming to know about the civil war, even Obasanjo himself. What was he during the civil war? He was a junior officer… Certainly, if he were in Biafra, he would not be in my war council. He was too junior…" That says it all for the self-professed mortal enemy of Biafra and Biafrans.
Seriously, one needs to sympathise with Obasanjo for admitting that he is still undergoing trauma as a result of Bifra. A trauma that has lasted for more than 33 years obviously bears a name I would not mention here. It suffices to recall the story Obasanjo told the Bayelsans about an aunt of his who lost her son in the civil war but is yet to come to terms with the reality decades after the war. According to Obasanjo: "The poor woman still believes that her son is alive. She has gone to all the babalawos in the land. She prays daily for her son to just walk in from the war front. Each time she sees me, she would ask me if I saw her son. That is the trauma most Nigerians are going through for fighting to safeguard the resources of the country." I do empathise with the trauma of the woman, but I seriously do not understand the trauma involved in the manic chest-thumping Obasanjo has been indulging in over the affairs of Biafra over the years.
Obasanjo is the archetype of the Nigerians who are more interested in stopping the Biafrans (read Igbos) than in helping Nigeria. The Igbos abandoned the Biafra war of independence from Nigeria way back in 1970. Ever since, they have been told in no uncertain terms that they do not belong within the entity called Nigeria. Except for the fact that the Igbos are indeed occupying a certain geographical space on the map of Nigeria, everything else takes place in this abject country without any consideration at all being given to the ill-fated people who made the mistake of standing up to horrendous genocide. But then, the genocide must continue by other means, and who else but Obasanjo is qualified to get elected and re-elected to execute the bloody charge. After all, when the war ended and Sir Louis Mbanefo and Professor Eni Njoku protested the carving up of the East without due consultation, Obasanjo had flared up like a conqueror and, according to Onukaba Adinoyi Ojo in his book In The Eyes of Time, asked the then Commander-in-Chief Gowon for "permission to march out my men back to the battle-field to begin where the battle stopped since they are not ready to accept the reality." Well, the reality of defeat has since been accepted, but Obasanjo is still fighting on, like Don Quixote blasting away at windmills!
Incidentally, the Igbos have this saying about cowards who purport to earn heroism by killing the captured. Also, the Igbos say a man who holds another down also holds himself down. Obasanjo appears to be pursued by the ghost of Biafra everywhere, whence his need to tell some Biafran irritant in America the other day to "go to hell!" The fear is that, in his mad pursuit of Biafra, Obasanjo may follow the irritant straight into hell!
Like a very bad boxer, Obasanjo leads with his nose. And does he get his nose bloodied! He throws his weight around when a little more intellect would do. That's why he was so easily plucked off by General Sani Abacha despite his international standing as a big man. Now he is bullying Biafra instead of striving to change the system that made his imprisonment possible. We may yet witness a repeat of history. The celebrated American actor Charlton Heston wrote in his dairies that a big man should never get into a fight because he is in a no-win situation. If the big man beats the little fellow, he is called a bully, but if he makes the mistake of losing, he becomes a buffoon. Biafra is an underdog, and the underdog never loses. That's why we are still talking of Biafra today in spite of Obasanjo.
''Calls for Biafra Unnecessary''
By Abdul Jelil
Senate President, Adolphus Wabara has said that the call for revalidation of Republic of Biafra was unnecessary.
Also, Wabara has identified disunity among the Igbo as the greatest problem facing the entire South East zone.
The senate president reiterated that such calls for the revalidation of Biafran Republic had been consigned to history since the Igbo race has been fully integrated into Nigeria.
In a paper he presented at the ongoing World Igbo Congress in Tennessee, United States, Wabara said it was high time the Igbo took their destinies in their hands.
According to him, the alarming rate at which young Igbo boys are dropping out of school to embrace trade should be roundly condemned as it has the tendencies of placing the race in a great disadvantage in future.
""The present and future belong to those who are prepared, by having the requisite skills and education for our changing times. If we do not equip ourselves, we are doomed to the margins. And this cannot be inflicted marginalisation, but self-marginalisation.""
He challenged the Igbo congress to demonstrate that Ndigbo have core values and are ready to prompt those core values of industry, integrity and honesty.
On calls for revalidation of Biafran Republic, Wabara said it has been consigned to history as the race has been fully reintegrated into Nigeria.
""We the Ndigbo are now talking of Igbo presidency. But how can we achieve Igbo presidency when some of us are still talking about Biafra. It is a contradiction. We have moved beyond Biafra,"" the Senate President noted.
He therefore, charged the delegates to regard this year''s edition of the congress as an opportunity to chart a new direction for the Igbo.
He promised to set up an ultra modern Igbo Unity Centre that could trigger off a renaissance of sort for the South East zone. The centre will be located in Enugu, he added.
The ultra modern centre, he hoped will minister to the many social educational, cultural and political needs that would serve as a rallying point for all Igbo groups.
He said the era of blaming their misfortune in the contemporary Nigeria on the civil war could no longer be accepted.
""It is true that the war caused us a lot of reversals and that events after the war have succeeded in pushing us Ndigbo to the margins, but it is also true that Ndigbo have succumbed to two easy ways, continue to moan as perpetual victims and continue to surrender the high grounds to others.""
In the senate president''s entourage were Senator Arthur Nzeribe, Ifeanyi Ararume, Fidelis Okoro, Chris Adighije and Ken Nnamani. Former Senate President, Evans Enwerem, Chukwu Ozichukwu and Hon. Osita Izunago and Jerry Ugokwe were also in attendance.
'Igbo 'll support MASSOB for self determination'
Eze Kieran Ezewunwa Orjiako, vice chairman of the All Progressive Grand Alliance (APGA), Lagos State, is also the Eze Ohanaeze Ndigbo of Ikeja Local Government Area, Eze Ashipa Ndigbo of Yorubaland and a member of the Igbo Council of Chiefs. He spoke with Vincent Obia on the last general elections and the position of the Igbo in the nation's politics. Excerpts:
On the position of Igbo in Lagos State on the last elections
APGA was one of the parties registered before the latest registration of 22 parties. But some among the Igbo thought that APGA would not make any headway, so they started rushing to the other parties. As we can see, however, APGA came third in the last general elections. Our people, I'm sure, would have also discovered that APGA is the only party for Ndigbo.The Ikemba Nnewi, Chief Chukwuemeka Odimegwu-Ojukwu had sounded it loud and clear that the Igbo should rally round APGA so that the party could win in all the Igbo-speaking states. But due to poverty, and suffering in Igboland, and money mongering among some of our leaders, the Igbo were led to other parties.
In Lagos here, we had some problems during the last elections due to the activities of Eze Hycenth Ohazulike at Ifako/Ijaye. He manipulated Ndigbo in Lagos to vote for his own candidate, Governor Bola Tinubu. Ohazulike forgot the fact that it was Ikemba that brought him to limelight in Lagos. Ohazulike was picked from the Igbo Council of Chiefs, when Raph Uwazuruike, leader of the Movement for the Actualisation of the Sovereign State of Biafra (MASSOB), was president of the Igbo Council of Chiefs, and I was the financial secretary. We thought Ohazulike would understand the agenda of the Igbo. We now know that that man doesn't know where the Igbo are going.It was abominable to realise the huge sums of money he collected from various people to work against Ikemba in Lagos State. He relied on the excuse that Uche John must be pulled out of APGA before he would participate. This demand didn't make sense to us. John was the coordinator of APGA in Lagos State, and I was the grand patron at the beginning, when Chekwas Okorie, the national chairman, came here and inaugurated the party. Ikemba should realise that Ohazulike, truly, is not an Igbo man. He should call a meeting of the Igbo Council of Chiefs to look into the issue of Ohazulike.
Eze Nwachukwu was the first Eze Ndigbo of Lagos selected by the Igbo Council of Chiefs in 1997. But Nwachukwu was a bit dull, and Ohazulike capitalised on the misunderstanding within the Igbo Council of Chiefs then and declared himself as the Eze Igbo of Lagos. He was coronated by a Baale, who has no power to give the title of Eze.
Before the last elections, Ohazulike went to town with the story that APGA was a new party that cannot even make the 10th position in an election. We saw how that the party came third nationally. Such a man should be pulled out of the Eze title.
On allegations that Ohazulike took money from Tinubu.
Tinubu gave him N25 million, and he worked against APGA. He has the right to belong to any party of his choice, but he must realise that it is an abomination to deny one's fatherland. Well, we know that the Igbo constitute at least 45 per cent of the Lagos population.
On the struggle for the Eze Ndigbo Lagos title.
The traditional council of Eze Ndigbo in the South West has the right to pull out any Eze in any state in the zone. This council meets in Ibadan under the chairmanship of Eze James Oromadike, but Ohazulike is the only Eze in the region who has refused to attend the meeting. He loves divide and rule that is why he doesn't want to identify with others.
I made the mistake of supporting Ohazulike in November 1999 when he was crowned as Eze Igbo of Ifako/Ijaye. We have now realised that that man is not worthy to be Eze Ndigbo of Lagos. This man in addition is a stark illiterate who cannot defend Ndigbo anywhere.
On the pact between APGA and the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in the last general elections.
Campbell Umeh was the first person we knew as the governorship candidate of APGA in Lagos State. He was declared by Ikemba at the Trade Fair Complex. But when Umeh could not pay the amount stipulated by the party for governorship candidates, Basil Onyia just rushed to fill his name. He does not know anything about the registration of APGA.
The alliance was not only between APGA and PDP; about seven parties were involved. All the parties came together at Alhaji Ganiyu Dawodu's place at Victoria Island, about four days before the governorship elections, and signed an accord to work together under the PDP candidate, Chief Funso Williams. We never accepted money from anybody, but were only interested in the sharing of positions after the elections. I can tell you sincerely that Funso Williams won the election, but he was rigged out.
The accord was in black and white, but since the elections went the way they did, we are awaiting the outcome of the tribunals.
Why Igbo people appeared not to be active in the last elections in Lagos, even in areas with large Igbo population.
The Igbo in Lagos were discouraged by Ohazulike. In about three local governments in the state, APGA scored the highest during the House of Assembly poll, but there were no candidates. We know of Ojo, Ajegunle, Ajangbadi, etc.
On the credibility of the election tribunals.
Well, we all know this is a country where there is hardly truth. We hope some of the judges would have the fear of God and try to bring out the truth. The British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) described what happened in the last elections as executive rigging, and I agree with this position. Results were merely fixed according to the influence of money.
On the position of the Igbo on the last elections, and the way forward.
For the Igbo in Nigeria, 2007 will be a different issue. We have seen the truth, and we have resolved that things cannot continue like this. APGA is the only hope of the Igbo; we only have to work hard to strongly position the party in the scheme of things. If Nigeria really wants peace, the Presidency in 2007 should be given to an Igbo man. Else, we will support MASSOB to go ahead and table our case before the world court for the actualisation of the Biafran state. We have all along tried to ask Uwazuruike to be calm, that Nigeria would realise that the Igbo is the first son of this country. The first son is now being made to play the second fiddle, and we will not allow this. Ikemba tried in the last election; only he started late. But, the Igbo now know that he is a true leader of his people.
On what would follow if an Igbo man does not become President in 2007.
We will forward our case for the actualisation of the state of Biafra to the world court. We are aware of the cold-blooded murder of many MASSOB activists, and other brutal activities of the Nigerian government against this organisation of unarmed people who are only exercising their legitimate right to protest their state of being within the country.
On why many notable figures in Igboland do not seem to identify with MASSOB.
I can tell you that about 99 per cent of them support MASSOB, only they don't want to identify openly with the organisation.
Whether the Igbo are compact enough to actualise such collective actions.
Well, the problem we have in Igbo land is the Anambra people. Even during the civil war, 85 per cent of the saboteurs were Anambra people. Ojukwu gave money to an Nnewi - one Theophilus to purchase ammunition for Biafra, but the man embezzled the money and ran to the United States. Without the saboteurs, that war wouldn't last six months. Those who lost their lives during that war, our ancestors will repay them because they were fighting a just cause.
MAY 30, BIAFRA INDEPENDENCE DAY ANNIVERSARY
BIAFRA INDEPENDENCE DAY ANNIVERSARY MESSAGE
BY BIAFRA FOUNDATION WASHINGTON, DC
Just as the children of Israel were held in bondage by the Pharaohs of Egypt, Biafrans today are still held in bondage by despotic and tyrannical rulers of Nigeria personified by Olusegun Obasanjo. And just like the children of Israel, the children of Biafra must struggle to free themselves from the clutches of the tyrannical rulers of Nigeria.
The world is fully aware of the shameful, despicable, and crude manner in which General Obasanjo and his political party, the PDP made a mockery of the so-called elections of 2003 by stealing votes cast for other parties and candidates, altering results to reflect wins for their candidates who had lost badly, stuffing ballot boxes in their private homes and in hotels, declaring results where elections did not hold at all, declaring people who never stood for elections as winners, and using the police and army to stuff ballots into boxes and to intimidate and kill anyone who challenged their criminal activities. Election monitoring groups from the European Union, the United States and from Nigeria, including a very large contingent from the Catholic Church in Nigeria have condemned these elections declaring that they were marred by serious irregularities and fraud and did not meet even the basic requirements for a democratic election. Twenty seven of the thirty political parties that participated in the election have denounced in unequivocal terms the naked robbery and disenfranchisement perpetrated by General Obasanjo and his party the PDP. Yet, General Obasanjo is now poised to coronate himself the so-called president of Nigeria and foist an illegitimate administration on the people of Nigeria.
We condemn in the strongest terms the criminal disenfranchisement of the people of their right to elect their own leaders. We condemn in the strongest terms Obasanjo's self coronation and imposition of himself as the president of Nigeria. It does not matter how many divisions of soldiers and paramilitary police he puts on the streets to brutalize and kill protesting citizens, whatever government he puts in place is an illegal and illegitimate government and will always be seen as such by the world.
What happened during the so-called election in Nigeria should not come as a surprise to anyone. For forty years Nigeria has been incapable of organizing an election, a census, providing security, water, electricity, telecommunication, public transportation, and other basic services to its citizens to justify its existence as a State. Public education has collapsed and the civil service is teetering on the brink of collapse. Nigerian society has been split into two: the corrupt stinking rich and the dirt poor. Corruption headquartered at the presidency has been elevated to the status of national culture according to General Obasanjo. Nigeria has effectively become a failed feudal State. The Nigerian State has an intrinsic, irreparable structural damage. Its parts have fallen apart and the center can not hold except through unending militarism. This is one of the reasons why Biafrans want out of Nigeria.
Biafran society was built on the philosophy of egalitarianism, liberty, respect of individual freedoms and rights, individual achievement rather than ascribed status, and an open market of ideas, goods and services which guaranteed a vibrant middle class and therefore opportunity for upward social and economic mobility. Biafrans are very different from Nigerians in every respect. The democratic philosophy which makes Biafrans a great people is antithetical to Hausa/Fulani and Yoruba of Nigeria who subscribe to feudalistic dictatorship as forms of government. This is why Biafrans still in bondage in Nigeria must now insist on Sovereign National Conference to discuss how Biafrans can reestablish their autonomy and regain effective control of their lives.
May 30, 2003 will be Biafran Independence Day Anniversary. Since Biafra is still under occupation by Nigeria, we urge Biafrans all over the world to celebrate this anniversary in the most solemn, spiritual, sober, and reflective mood. We call on all Biafrans to gather in small groups in the privacy of their homes, flats, and apartments, in churches, town halls and on the street. We call on Biafrans to discuss the continuing occupation and oppression of Biafra by Nigeria. We call on you to watch videos of the Biafra-Nigeria War of genocide or the hidden holocaust in Sudan. We call on all Biafrans to brainstorm about strategies to liberate our Nation from the clutches of despotic rulers in Nigeria.
Biafra Foundation is in the process of finalizing arrangements to organize a world conference of Biafrans and her friends to discuss the modalities for setting up a Biafran Government in Exile. The right to self-determination is guaranteed under resolution 1514 of the General Assembly of the United Nations adopted on December 14 1960. Biafra having been occupied by Nigeria for more than thirty years will demand her independence.
Biafra Foundation salutes his Excellency C. Odumegwu Ojukwu, first Head of State of Biafra. We salute members of the Movement for the Actualization of the Sovereign State of Biafra (MASSOB) and their leader Ralph Uwazurike Esq. who are persecuted daily by General Obasanjo and his paramilitary police and army. We salute individuals who work tirelessly day and night for the cause of Biafra. We salute Biafran mothers and fathers, the youth who are forced daily to make supreme sacrifices for the actualization of Biafra. We salute the clergy for their continuing prayer for the deliverance of Biafra. We salute traders, business people, students, and school children who having witnessed the tragedy of being Nigerian have wholeheartedly embraced Biafra. Finally we salute all those who were initially skeptical about the actualization of Biafra but who have finally seen the light and are now in the vanguard of the Movement. To all of you we say, "Biafra will never betray your trust in her." Though the road be rough and full of thorns with God victory shall be ours.
May God bless you and the Republic of Biafra!
MASSOB to Continue Struggle for Biafra
By Uzoma Nzeagwu, Akwa
In a defiant tone, the Movement for the Actualisation of the Sovereign State of Biafra (MASSOB) on Tuesday in Onitsha, Anambra State, said no amount of intimidation would deter it from the chosen struggle.
Addressing reporters at a press conference, MASSOB'S Provincial Administrator, Chief Venatus Muoneke maintained that "we should not be deterred in our peaceful and non-violent struggle," saying the struggle was for a genuine cause which affects the whole Igbo race.
Muoneke further regretted that several hundreds of MASSOB members were languishing in various police cells and prisons across the country without trial and called on the Federal Government to immediately release the detainees.
Said he: "We are very mindful of the fact that during this kind of struggle in any society, there is bound to be reactionary elements that will make every possible effort to sabotage the struggle.
Continuing, Muoneke added: "We are also mindful... that more and severe persecutions from the government and its agents await MASSOB members, but we shall not be deterred in our peaceful and non-violent struggle," stressing further that the group did not regard its struggle as a "mission impossible."
Worried by the alleged government's high handedness against MASSOB, Muoneke challenged the government and the police to point any record of violence exhibited by the movement in its agitation.
He stressed that other ethnic militia movements operating in other geo-political zones have at one time or the other wretched havoc on the citizenry.
In his view, government's resolve was bent on silencing the MASSOB's peaceful agitation as well as perpetually marginalise and enslave the Ndigbo in the country.
As a way out, he said that MASSOB leaders are calling for a separate state of Biafra for the Igbo race, urging Igbo leaders of thought and politicians to rally their support for MASSOB.
NONI Remembers the Dead Igbo of the Nigeria- Biafra War
Homily Given by Fr. Emefiena Ezeani
I Have Come to be with the Igbo, Not to Praise Them!
We go to bed at night and get up in the morning and go about our daily business - working and earning money, studying to gain a degree or further degrees, etc. and so we believe we are awake. Anthony de Mello believes and rightly too, that many of us are not awake but asleep, though we may have our two eyes wide open. When do you then know that you are awake? It is when you have attained awareness, the spiritualist guru says. Have you ever said to yourself, 'Either I am mad or these other people are mad?" If you have asked yourself that question, that was the time you gained awareness or wisdom. You attain awareness when you are mad pursuing some ideals or causes when majority of other people could not see a sense in what you are doing. You see, they are 'sensible' and you are 'foolish' and foolishness is a twin sister of madness. Yet, it is in a state of madness that one attains awareness or wisdom. That was the madness of Christ, the foolishness of God. But they are indeed the overwhelming majority who take no notice of what is happening around them - the vegetables of humanity. Most of us have been following recent events in that unfortunate country called Nigeria (Permit me to use the language of mad people.But tell me if Nigeria is not an unfortunate but a happy country).
As before, hundreds of Christians, mainly Igbo, were massacred in the North by Moslems for committing the natural crime of being Igbo and the crime of freedom of being Christians. What have different Nigerian governments done? Nothing!
It is under the above background that one could understand my rage when recently I attended a function in London. The audience was almost 100% Igbo. Yet the Chief of Protocol considered it apposite to have the function conducted in big English grammar. Sorry, I forgot to mention, there were also many Ichie Is, Chiefs and Akajiaku ls in attendance too. But what was more sorrowful was that in the hall, many were, as though everything was normal, hilariously partying and dancing that people-destructive philosophical piece, People's Club gwa m ife anyi ga eme echi-o, k'anyi kpolibe ndu. Olue ichi anyi amalu ife anyi ga eme nuo, k'anyi kpolibe ndu!" It was then I began to think and I asked myself, Which type of people with this type of Epicurean and hedonistic philosophy will ever survive? Who says the present generation of my people, the Igbo, are not wise and intelligent?' Mind you, I do not disapprove of parties, so do not misunderstand me. Socialization is salutary for the soul and body. But there is something fundamentally awry in a people who can party-party till day break for their individual welfare or enjoyment (too much stress in London) but cannot spare an hour of talky-talky for their collective well being.
Some of you may not have been aware of what is happening in WashingtonDC. As reported, the issue centres on the conspiracy of the Northern Moslem Nigerian Ambassador to the USA and some Nigerian Catholic clergy to destroy the Igbo Catholic Community in Washington DC. David Patterson once wrote a book with the title, "When Learned Men Murder." Learned men's commission of murder could be pardonable. But the learned and sacred men's commission of murder against a people (genocide) or their culture (ethnocide) is a sin against the Holy Spirit. And this sin is classified as 'unpardonable sin.' Our wise elders and forebears say, Onye ndi ilo gbalu gbulu gbulu na eche ndu ya nche mgbe nile. Ndi nke m, stay awake, gain awareness, be mad! But my people will not listen to my voice. And so, I have not ceased to ask, Quo vadis, my people? and they think I have run amok.
So, umu nne m, I came here to be with you, to be in solidarity with you as my people, but not to praise you. Or to praise ourselves, that we are trying! We are not. It is also my purpose for attending other Igbo functions. Why, because we have all been chasing after the rainbow, neglecting to collect the rain. Yes, all these functions, especially the one in remembrance and honour of our diseased brothers and sisters are good. But we have not laid the foundation or fertilised the soil for them to yield good fruits. If you have not yet understood what I am saying, this is it: We need unity and more than any other thing. Or in the biblical parlance: What we need is mercy, not holocaust sacrifice. It seems we have over flogged this point in this community even to the point of annoying some people. But the soul does not rest until it finds happiness in the Lord. Let us test our education and Igbo wisdom. When the Northern Moslems suspect of reprisal attacks on fellow Hausa Moslems, those who have vehicles make them available to take them to safe havens in the North. What do the wise Igbo who have vehicles do when Igbo and other Eastern or Southern Christians are massacred in the North by Moslems for no just cause? They double and triple the transport fares. The time their brothers and sisters are killed is a welcome opportunity to make quick and big money. Why has the present generation of my people changed so much and so badly? The bitterness and rancour and deadly competition among us is disturbing. Any slightest misunderstanding, your once cherished friend is made your greatest enemy. Even when the person has not done anything that is actually wrong. Once made an enemy he or she also becomes your wife's or husband's enemy too and enemy of your other friends. There seems to be a stony stubbornness in our hearts which prevents us from recognising the splendour, beauty and the redeeming power of forgiveness. My advice to each and every one of us here and 'there' today is to go and learn and put into practise those divine words in the Scripture: Obedience is better than sacrifice, what I Yahweh, your God, want is mercy, not sacrifice. Until we do this, our religious sacrifices,and weekly attendance at Mass (for those of us who are Catholics) will be nothing but empty rituals incapable of bringing to us God's sublime blessings. If I were to have a child (but I cannot now because I am a Catholic priest) I will Christian him or her with the baptismal name, Igbomaluife.